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Calvin Johnson, Charles Woodson among 15 finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Detroit News staff and wires

Former Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Michigan great Charles Woodson have moved one step closer to Canton.

Johnson and Woodson were among the 15 modern-era finalists named for the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class on Tuesday. They are also two of four first-year eligible players on the ballot, along with quarterback Peyton Manning and defensive end Jared Allen.

Calvin Johnson

During his nine seasons in Detroit, Johnson, 35, set franchise records for receptions (731), receiving yards (11,619) and receiving touchdowns (83) before he retired in 2016. He also holds the NFL’s single-season mark with 1,964 yards.

Woodson, 44, played cornerback and safety with Oakland and Green Bay in his 18-year career. He won a Super Bowl with the Packers, was the 1998 defensive rookie of the year, and took top defensive player honors in 2009. He won the Heisman Trophy at Michigan in 1997.

“I am just enjoying this moment, sitting here watching those highlights and what you immediately do is kind of reliving some of those moments,” Woodson said. “To me it is not lost to be in this moment, to be a Hall of Fame finalist in the first year; it takes a lot to get to this point. You really have to make an impact on the game and I am excited to be in this moment.”

The group of 15 finalists also includes receivers Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne, offensive linemen Tony Boselli and Alan Faneca, linebackers Sam Mills, Zach Thomas and Clay Matthews, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, safeties John Lynch and LeRoy Butler, and cornerback Ronde Barber.

Voting on the entrants to the hall will be conducted later this month, with the inductees announced during Super Bowl week. A maximum of five modern-day players can be chosen, along with three previously announced candidates should they get the required votes: coach Tom Flores, contributor Bill Nunn, and senior Drew Pearson.

Inductions are scheduled for next August, when the 2020 class and a special centennial class also will be enshrined after the COVID-19 pandemic forced postponement of those ceremonies last summer.